May 25, 2024

Chris Finch to sit in second row behind team for Timberwolves-Nuggets series after rupturing patellar tendon

DENVER — Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch had to come up with two game plans for these Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets: One for the opponent, and one for himself.

Six days after Finch suffered a rupture patellar tendon in a sideline collision with Mike Conley in Game 4 of the Timberwolves’ first-round series against the Phoenix Suns, and three days after he had surgery to repair his right knee, the 54-year-old addressed reporters before Game 1 against the Nuggets and detailed the in-game strategy that will allow him to continue leading his team.

Finch, who returned to Minnesota’s practices on Thursday, will sit in the second row with his coaching staff while assistant coach Micah Nori handles all of the on-court communication with Timberwolves players and the referees.

“The game interaction and the game flow will be largely run by Micah,” Finch said. “Obviously I’m not in a position to be able to get up, call timeouts, interact with the players, you know, that kind of stuff. But being right there with the coaches, and with the players in the huddles, that stuff will be the same.”

No one can blame Finch for not wanting to miss any of this historic Timberwolves action. Minnesota’s win over Phoenix was the organization’s first playoff series win in two decades, and this series against the defending champion Nuggets is slated to be a very competitive matchup against a team with which the Timberwolves are very familiar. Denver downed Minnesota in five games in last season’s first round, but the Timberwolves have since elevated into one of the NBA’s fastest-rising teams. And Finch, who is in his fourth season as Minnesota’s coach, will be in position to make an impact from the start.

“Yeah, feel pretty good, all things considered,” he said. “The plan was to try to be here all along, just see how I felt day by day and kind of figure out logistically how it might work being on the bench with the other coaches.

“They really wanted me to just rest, and I’ve been trying to do that. But I also wanted to be here. And you know, if I could be here in any capacity, that was the most important thing for me.”

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(Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images)